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Stepping Lightly Pays Off

April 08, 1999|Denise Gellene

Advertiser: Adidas

Agency: 180 Communications, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Challenge: Create a "human feel" for Adidas that will work before a global audience.

The Ads: Four TV spots consist of vignettes showing ordinary people and serious athletes involved in sports. Type appearing on the screen helps draw the contrast. "Take control of the stadium," says the legend as tennis star Anna Kournikova slams a ball. "Take control of the streets" appears as a skateboarder leaps an obstacle. In one of the commercials, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant appears playing basketball with a young boy. The legend for that frame: "Don't take it seriously at all."

Comment: Adidas is trying to position itself as the brand for people who enjoy sports, while using athletes to signal the brand also stands for performance. Its feel-good message sharply contrasts with the defiant tone of many ads from market-leader Nike. And judging from sales figures, Adidas is clicking with consumers. According to the trade publication Sporting Goods Intelligence, its athletic shoe sales grew 94% in 1998 to $950 million, making it the third-best selling brand behind No. 2 Reebok. Nike's athletic shoe sales fell 14% last year to a still sizable $3.252 billion. $$$


Ads are rated from $ to $$$$, based on tastefulness and probable effectiveness, with $$$$ being the highest.

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